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Powerful Video Captures National Guard Kneeling With Omaha Protesters

Although the death of 46-year-old George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer on May 25 has certainly had a direct inspiration on protests unfolding throughout the world, it's also true that with each protest comes with a different context in which a community comes forward to address the experiences its citizens have had with police.

Unfortunately, this has been particularly true in the case of Omaha, Nebraska, where The Omaha World-Herald reported that 22-year-old James Scurlock was fatally shot during an encounter with bar owner Jake Gardner. As Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine believes Gardner acted in self-defense, no charges were filed against him.

This situation has inflamed tensions that have already existed in Omaha this week, which makes the gesture captured in the full video so powerful. However, that city's protests also teach us how important it is to stay cautious when police kneel as the National Guard members did.

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At the beginning of the video, protesters could be seen kneeling with their fists in the air and chanting "take a knee."

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As the person filming the video explained, they were calling upon the National Guard members looking on to kneel with them.

Soon after this explanation, a line of National Guard members and police officers could be seen stepping forward and kneeling.

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The crowd of protesters then erupted in cheers as the two groups remained kneeling together for a moment.

And as they stood up again, protesters approached the National Guard members with some hugging and other exchanging high fives and fist bumps.

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As one guardsman who participated told The Omaha World-Herald, "The Minneapolis police officer was in the wrong. I fully believe that. To show people that we are on their side, and not against them, speaks volumes."

However, this was not the only instance of police kneeling like this in Omaha.

In this clip, it appears to unfold in a similarly heartwarming fashion with police kneeling to excited cheers and then coming together for handshakes and embraces.

But as a woman who said she was present for this video tweeted out, the story doesn't end there.

She said that the actions of the police less than 20 minutes after this video was taken suggest that the kneeling was only a mind game on the part of the police.

Not only were protesters arrested after the fact, as this person claimed, but done so in a way that involved tackling them and pushing them to the ground.

Another woman posted a picture of a bruise she received at that protest, which she said were the result of contact with three officers.

She further stated that she spent about eight hours in jail after this happened and bailed out a friend after a family member bailed her out.

Nonetheless, all signs indicate that the scene depicted in the first video remains a genuine gesture of good will and unity.

And despite some clashes between protesters and police that day, Omaha Deputy Police Chief Ken Kanger told The Omaha World-Herald that he felt the protests were ultimately a source of productive dialogue.

As he said, "To my knowledge, there was no violence, no property damage, and the majority of the people complied with the mayor's order."

h/t: The Omaha World-Herald